Monday, 30 May 2011


Hiten Barman's bid to improve tourism infrastructure

The new forest minister Mr Hiten Barman is eager to improve the infrastructure of tourism sector in Cooch Behar district. He already took initiatives to better the tourism industry in Cooch Behar as well as in North Bengal.

After his recent meeting with senior forest officials of the state including that of North Bengal districts at Cooch Behar Mr Barman announced that during the celebration of forest week this year the state forest department would distribute two-crore saplings in the districts including one-lakh in Kolkata to make the environment green.

The minister also announced that they would build up five new forest bungalows and the existing ones situated at different areas would be renovated and modernised. Tourists from different areas of the country and abroad come to stay at these forest bungalows but the infrastructure needs to be improved to provide them comfortable experiences. Learning the inadequacy of facilities at the forest bungalows the minister has decided to better the condition of those bungalows. Booking counters would be set up at different districts to help the local and foreign tourists for booking the bungalows smoothly.

Mr Barman told reporters that a tourism centre would be build up on a 104-acre land at Salbari under his Assembly constituency (Sitalkuchi) at the vicinity of the historic Garh (mound) of king Kanteswar. At the same time the tourism infrastructure would be developed surrounding the historic capital of Kamtapur at Gosanimari in Dinhata and the eco-tourism centre at Tekunia in Mathabhanga. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Initiative to address river erosion menace

River erosion is one of the major problems the residents of Cooch Behar district suffer from. Though it is a round the year phenomenon the problem turns worse during the monsoon months. There was a widespread demand to address the problem by adopting permanent measures but the concerned authorities never took proper initiative to meet the menace. The issue comes up only after any damage of any embankment during the monsoon. The concerned authorities then engage agencies to repair the damaged embankments. The agencies too do it with sandbags by collecting sands from the riverbeds and submit inflated bills. Several political parties have raised demands to stop the malpractice but to no avail. This time the new state government may take needed measures to curb river erosion to save the residents and their properties and also to take steps to stop the illegal practice, believe locals.

The president of Cooch Behar district unit of the Trinamul Congress and also the newly elected MLA from Natabari Assembly segment, Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said the river erosion problem turned worse in the district. Many farmers and villagers have lost their farmlands due to the erosion of rivers. The rivers have gobbled up their cultivable lands and homesteads and turned them homeless and penniless. The Left Front government did nothing to save them. This time, after taking charge of the government Miss Mamata Banerjee announced allotment of Rs 200-crore for Uttar Banga Unnayan Parshad. "We shall try our best to address the river erosion problem with that fund. We hope Cooch Behar district may get about Rs 30-crore to Rs 40-crore from that fund", he said.

Two other Trinamul Congress leaders of the district - state forest minister Mr Hiten Barman and the Mathabhanga MLA Mr Binay Krishna Barman already expressed their desire to take initiatives to control the river erosion problem in the district. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Demand for a fire service station at Sitai

Dinhata Nagarik Unnayan Mancha and several other organisations came forward to save Sitai in Dinhata sub-division from the raze of fire. They are going to start a movement demanding setting up of a fire service station at Sitai. The newly elected Congress MLA from Sitai, Mr Kesab Ray too expressed his willingness to take initiative to save the residents and their properties during any incident of inferno.

There exists no fire service station at Sitai. The country earned its Independence 64 years ago. The state was also under the Left Front rule for 34 years. But, the fate of Sitai remains uncertain till now. The locals are now planning to convey their demand for a fire service station to the new fire service affairs minister.

It may be mentioned here that during any incident of fire the locals have to depend on fire-engines brought from far away Mathabhanga town. Though the area is under Dinhata sub-division it is impossible to bring fire extinguishers from Dinhata town, as there is no road bridge over Singimari river to connect Dinhata town with Sitai. The locals became habituated to hear lame promises prior to any election from the leaders of various political parties. And now, they want to try another time by sending appeals to the new state government and its concerned minister. Dinhata Unnayan Nagarik Mancha also came forward to highlight the justified demand of the residents of Sitai.

On the otherhand, the newly elected Congress MLA from Sitai, Mr Keshab Ray admitted that the demand to set up a fire service station at Sitai is a longstanding one. He assured that he would try his best to convince the departmental minister Mr Javed Ahmed Khan. 

Monday, 23 May 2011


Hiten Barman to take initiative for new university

Defeating a CPI-M candidate Mr Biswanath Pramanik at Sitalkuchi in Mathabhanga sub-division, a Trinamul Congress candidate Mr Hiten Barman has been elected and became the new forest minister. The earlier forest minister Mr Ananta Ray (CPI-M) was also won from Mathabhanga but he was not a resident of Mathabhanga. Before Mr Ray, a local resident Mr Dinesh Dakua (CPI-M) was also elected from Mathabhanga and during his two-time tenure he was the minister of backward classes welfare and then of tourism. After Mr Ray, once again Mathabhanga got another local minister.

Mr Barman is among the proponents who are eager to establish a university named after the legendary social reformer of this region, Thakur Panchanan Barma at Khalisamari. Khalisamari is the birthplace of Panchanan Barma. A popular movement is going on for the past years to set up a university at Khalisamari in the name of Panchanan Barma. Mr Barman said he would talk with the higher education minister Mr Bratya Basu over the matter. A confident Mr Barman hopes primary work for setting up of the proposed university would start soon.

Mr Barman was the Cooch Behar MP (Lok Sabha) from 2004 to 2009. He was elected as a Forward Bloc candidate. He had to leave that party following disputes over his candidature in 2009. As the FB leadership had denied to nominate him for the second time as a candidate in the Lok Sabha election he left that party and later joined the Trinamul Congress.

On his first day as the forest minister he met senior officials and took decision to handover land-deeds to the residents of hilly areas and forest-villages. He will also work jointly with the ministers of other departments to translate the Trinamul supremo's plan to make North Bengal a Switzerland.

As he did as an MP Mr Barman will take fresh initiatives to revive the abandoned air service between Cooch Behar and Kolkata through Cooch Behar Airport in the interest of developing the tourism and industry sectors.

Mr Barman is the sole minister from Cooch Behar district. He knows that one of the major problems of Cooch Behar district is river erosion. Problems related to lack of adequate irrigation facility and bordering areas are also there. He made it known to the reporters that he will do the needful. He also wants to improve the tourism facilities in the district by adding a few eco-tourism centres. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011


'Greater' prisoners hope for release in new era

After swearing in of Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Banerjee the hope for release of political prisoners has been brightened.

In Cooch Behar there are forty-five under-trial prisoners who were associated with the movement for a separate state named 'Greater Cooch Behar'. The 'Greater' prisoners are now expecting of come out from behind the bars.

It was learnt that the new chief minister has decided to constitute a ten-member committee to consider the release of political prisoners. The committee is to inquire at different correctional homes in the state about the condition of the prisoners having connection with political movement. After circulation of the news in Cooch Behar The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA), the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) and others turned happy expecting release of their men.

President of the GCDP, Mr Ashutosh Barma said he heard the decision of the new state government from the media. "The police arrested our innocent men with false charges. They are now suffering as political prisoners. Also, we had to suffer largely during the regime of the Left Front. Now we expect that the situation may turn better under the state government led by chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee", he said.

GCPA leaders' too welcomed the new state government's initiative to set free the political prisoners suffering at different correctional homes in the state.

It may be mentioned here that during the GCPA's fast-unto-death programme five persons were killed on 20 September in 2005. Among the killed there was an additional superintendent of police, two policemen and two GCPA supporters. After that incident several cases were brought against the arrested and surrendered 'Greater' men including that organisation's the then supremo, Mr Bangshi Badan Barman. 

Friday, 20 May 2011


Wind of change makes ex-FB MP a minister

Former Forward Bloc MP (Lok Sabha) Mr Hiten Barman staged his comeback by riding the 'wind of change'. He not only became a MLA but has been included in the new state cabinet of Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance under the new chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee. A large section of Trinamul leaders and supporters from Cooch Behar district conveyed greetings to him after the swearing in ceremony on Friday. Vice-president of the party's district unit and also the district unit president of Trinamul Congress Shiksha Cell, Mr Niranjan Dutta hoped that Mr Barman may be able to cater the needed development to the still neglected district.

Mr Hiten Barman was the president of the district Forward Bloc. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 election as a FB candidate. But, in 2009 his party denied to make him a candidate again and then the aggrieved leader left the party. Later, he joined the Trinamul Congress and became a vice-president of the party. He is also the North Bengal unit convener of the SC/ST Cell of the Trinamul Congress.

Mr Barman entered politics when he was a student at Ananda Chandra College in Jalpaiguri in 1972. He was an active member of the Students' Bloc. Later he joined the Forward Bloc. Son of a peasant family Mr Barman became the saha-sabhapati of Mathabhanga Panchayat Samiti in the three-tier panchayat election in 1978. In 1996 Lok Sabha election, he contested as a candidate of the Socialist Forward Bloc led by late Kamal Guha.  That time he was defeated but he was elected in the Lok Sabha election in 2004 as a candidate of the Forward Bloc. 

Cooch Behar Traders' appeal to Mamata

Cooch Behar District Merchants Chamber of Commerce greeted Miss Mamata Banerjee for her success. In a letter conveyed to her on Friday the secretary of the CBDMCC Mr Rajendra Baid hoped that a neglected district like Cooch Behar may go ahead along the path of development under her able leadership.

In his letter Mr Baid wrote that Cooch Behar Airport has been dormant since 1995. He asked the new chief minister to intervene to revive the air service through the airport. He also requested her to consider setting up a medical college and an engineering college in Cooch Behar. Steps to generate employment are also needed as many people go out to outer provinces to seek jobs, he added. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Women were neglected in the election

There were sixty-two candidates in nine segments in the recently concluded state Assembly election in Cooch Behar district. Among them only four were women and none of them was able to come out as winner.

No major political party placed women in their list of candidates. And it is also true that no social organisation raised any question over the matter. They failed to ask the leaders of the major political parties why they did not give any chance to any woman to contest the election. Noteworthy, among the major political parties there are the CPI-M, the Forward Bloc, the Congress and the Trinamul Congress. Left or right – their role is similar over avoidance of women.

The organisational strength of the BJP is not so strong in Cooch Behar district. They however placed two women in their list of candidates. They are Ms Malati Rava (Cooch Behar Uttar) and Ms Gayatri Kar (Cooch Behar Dakshin). The SUCI nominated only one woman as their candidate. She is Ms Pramila Ray (Mekhliganj). The Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee nominated a housewife of an enclave as their sole candidate at Dinhata. She is Moimana Bibi.

After the election questions are coming from several quarters why the women were left neglected during the poll process in Cooch Behar district. Is it true that the leaders of the political parties believe that the women are unable to contest the election? The leaders of the concerned parties are to answer it why they still neglect the women after so many years of Independence.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Smuggling of forest timber through passenger train

Regular trafficking of forest timber especially form Dooars through the Alipurduar-Bamanhat passenger train is a cause of concern to the forest lovers and peace-loving passengers. Several organisations came out and raised their voice against the practice.

Some passengers alleged that a gang of miscreants uploads huge volume of timber in the train compartments and the toilets causing problems to the passengers. If opposed the miscreants threat them with dire consequences. The Alipurduar-Bamanhat passenger train is now nothing but a train of timber smugglers, they said. The miscreants download the illegally brought timber at railway stations like Cooch Behar and Dinhata. From the station those timber carried out to different places by handcarts.

A number of passengers alleged that the illegal practice is going on with active support of a section of railway security personnel and dishonest forest staff. The passengers demanded immediate action to curb the illegal practice in the interest of better passenger amenities. Dinhata Mahakuma Byabasayee Samiti, Dinhata Nagarik Unnayan Manch and other organisations are planning a movement to stop the menace.

On the otherhand, a senior official of the forest department at Cooch Behar claimed that they conduct regular raids to stop the timber smuggling through the trains. Their effort will continue in future too, he assured. A senior official of the Alipurduar division of the NF Railway said at Alipurduar that they received no specific complaint over smuggling of timber through the Alipurduar-Bamanhat passenger train. Steps would be taken after receiving of complaints, he said.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Controversy over chairmanship of DPSC

The Trinamul Congress may create trouble at District Primary School Council in Cooch Behar over appointment of its new chairman. The Trinamul Congress Shiksha Cell already made it known that they will oppose appointment of any person nominated by the outgoing Left Front government's education department in the post of chairman.

President of the district unit of the Trinamul Congress Shiksha Cell Mr Niranjan Dutta said the chairman of the DPSC is a nominated post. The ruling party nominates the person. In the case of Cooch Behar DPSC the CPI-M replaced the chairman with another man of their choice. "The appointment is a political one and we will not allow it as the government has been changed by popular mandate", he said. At the same time he threatened initiation of a movement over the issue.

It may be recalled here that Mr Kanak Mohanta was the chairman of the DPSC. He was a well-known CPI-M man. But, a lobby of the CPI-M recommended his removal. It is believed that they did it as he disobeyed their diktat over appointment of primary teachers. He was replaced before completion of his legal tenure. An aggrieved Mr Mohanta got back to his job as a headmaster in a school from where he came.

On the otherhand, Mr Sadhan Kar (a teacher of Dinhata College) was nominated as the chairman but he failed to join due to the norms of the Election Commission. Meanwhile, the government has changed and the Trinamul Congress came to power. In the changed situation the Trinamul Congress Shiksha Cell came out to oppose the appointment of Mr Sadhan Kar.

Mr Kar said he has no clear knowledge over the rules and norms. "The Governor has appointed me. If opposed I shall not go to join in the post of chairman", he added. 

Monday, 16 May 2011


Forward Bloc turns elder in Cooch Behar

The Forward Bloc has emerged as the leading leftist force in Cooch Behar from the viewpoint of the poll result. The voters of the district offered them four seats but wiped out the big brother, the CPI-M. The Forward Bloc contested in five seats and was able to regain a lost seat at Dinhata. Its bid to regain the Sitai seat however was foiled by the Congress.

In north Bengal too, the FB became the second largest party among the Left Front partners. It is now a major topic of discussion among the political observers of the region. It astonished them that the demised FB leader Kamal Guha fought against the CPI-M from within the LF but he was never able to make his party so stronger. His son, Mr Udayan Guha is very close and friendly with the CPI-M and now he proved his worth by making the party stronger and winding up the big brother. At present, the CPI-M is at the mercy of the FB in Cooch Behar.

The Forward Bloc's Cooch Behar district unit secretary and also a secretariat member of the state unit, Mr Udayan Guha however claimed that they fielded candidates as Left Front sponsored ones. The winners and the defeated ones are Left Front candidates. They belong to no certain party as he clarified. Earlier too they were stronger enough among the leftists in the district, he added. At the same time he made it clear that the district unit secretary of the CPI-M was always the convener of the district Left Front and that system may continue in future too.

Mentionworthy, the CPI-M failed to retain any of its seats in Cooch Behar in the Assembly election. The Forward Bloc has bagged four seats. The winners are : Mr Udayan Guha (Dinhata), Mr Paresh Adhikary (Mekhliganj), Mr Akshoy Thakur (Cooch Behar Dakshin) and Mr Nagendra Nath Ray (Cooch Behar Uttar). 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

West Bengal Assembly Election


Natabari :

Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh (TMC) Elected 81951, Mr Tamser Ali (CPI-M) 74386.

Tufanganj :

Mr Arghya Ray Pradhan (TMC) Elected 72550, Mr Dhananjay Rava (CPI-M) 66458.

Mekhliganj :

Mr Paresh Adhikary (FB) Elected 72040, Mr Jayanta Ray (TMC) 39408.

Mathabhanga :

Mr Binay Krishna Barman (TMC) Elected 77902, Mr Ananta Ray (CPI-M) 72298.

Sitalkuchi :

Mr Hiten Barman (TMC) Elected 84651, Mr Biswanath Pramanik (CPI-M) 84394.

Sitai :

Mr Keshab Ray (Congress) Elected 79856, Mr Dipak Ray (FB) 78279.

Dinhata :

Mr Udayan Guha (FB) Elected 93050, Dr Fazle Haque (Ind) 63024.

Cooch Behar Dakshin :

Mr Akshay Thakur (FB) Elected 69135, Mr Abdul Jalil Ahmed (TMC) 65730.

Cooch Behar Uttar :

Mr Nagendra Nath Ray (FB) Elected 84825, Mr Prasenjit Barman (TMC) 82628.

New West Bengal Government

High speculation over inclusion in Mamata ministry

High speculations started among local Trinamul Congress leaders and supporters over inclusion of new MLAs from Cooch Behar district in the new Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance led cabinet of ministers. Not only the Trinamul men, others also have engaged in hot discussion over the issue at offices, road crossings, tea joints and other places. After the declaration of the poll result it is the main topic of discussion among almost all people.

In the election, four Trinamul Congress candidates and one Congress candidate came out with flying colours. Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh is one of them. He is the president of the party's Cooch Behar district unit since formation of the party. He contested from Natabari segment for four times and this time became successful. He defeated his main rival, the CPI-M's Mr Tamser Ali. The outgoing MLA Mr Ali won from the segment for two times. Mr Ghosh is known as a staunch follower of Miss Mamata Banerjee. Miss Banerjee also took part in electioneering in favour of him. Now, it is expected that he may get into the ministry as a reward for his long-time dedication.

Mr Arghya Ray Pradhan won from Tufanganj segment. Earlier, in the Lok Sabha election he contested from Cooch Behar constituency. He is personally closed to the party supremo though once he was a leftist. His father Mr Amar Ray Pradhan was the Cooch Behar MP for eight times as a Forward Bloc man. The 'wind of change' helped him to win form Tufanganj that was once a left stronghold. Local political observers believe that he may get a chair in the cabinet as a gift from her beloved 'pishi'.

Mr Binay Krishna Barman enjoys support from all lobbies of the party and won from Mathabhanga by defeating a heavyweight CPI-M leader Mr Ananta Ray. Mr Ray is the forest minister of the outgoing Left Front government. Trinamul activists of Mathabhanga want Mr Barman as a minister.

Mr Hiten Barman won from Sitalkuchi. He was the Cooch Behar MP as a Forward Bloc man. In 2009, his party denied him of nomination in the Lok Sabha election. Later, he joined Trinamul Congress and turned a vice-president. As Cooch Behar was known as a left citadel for a long and the Forward Bloc is the lone leftist party that won four seats from this district, the Trinamul supremo may consider his name during formation of the ministry. She may do it to get the confidence of the grassroot-level FB supporters who are always known as anti-CPI-M. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

West Bengal Assembly Election

Trinamul pushes out CPI-M in Cooch Behar

At last, the Trinamul Congress came up as an advanced force in Cooch Behar district. In nine Assembly seats the Trinamul Congress bagged four seats and the Congress one while the Forward Bloc got four seats.

The CPI-M failed to retain its seats. Among the party's defeated candidates there is state forest minister Mr Ananta Ray who contested from Mathabhanga. As expected, Trinamul Congress candidate Mr Binay Krishna Barman defeated him.

In the Asssembly elections of 2006 the Trinamul Congress got only one seat at Dinhata and the Congress got the Sitai seat. The left Front retained seven seats except the two. This time the situation turned worse for the leftists. Following the wind of change the Trinamul Congress gained four seats, the Congress retained its Sitai seat and the Forward bloc regained its Dinhata seat that it lost in 2006.

Cooch Behar MP (Rajya Sabha) and district secretariat member of the CPI-M Mr Tarini Ray admitted that the outcome is very poor in the district and in the state too. At the same time he also admitted that their result is poorer than the Forward Bloc's. The party will review the situation to study the main reasons behind, Mr Ray added.

State food and supply minister and also a senior Forward Bloc leader Mr Paresh Adhikary retained his Mekhliganj seat. In his opinion the outcome is the result of the 'wind of change'. Common people reacted sharply against the rude and impolite behaviour of many senior leaders of the LF, he believes.

District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh attributed the achievement as the victory of grass-root level people led by Ms Mamata Banerjee against the CPI-M's tyrannical rule of 34 years.

A senior leader of Cooch Behar district Congress and also the chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality Mr Biren Kundu said after so many years anti-leftists came to power in the state. The Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance got five seats out of nine in this district. The Congress retained its Sitai seat. It is indeed a success against the anti-people Left Front, he said.

As the wind of change made the Trinamul Congress happy, it also appeared as blessing to the Forward Bloc candidate Mr Udayan Guha as he regained the FB's seat at Dinhata.

The winners of the Trinamul Congress are : Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh (Natabari), Mr Binay Krishna Barman (Mathabhanga), Mr Hiten Barman (Sitalkuchi) and Mr Arghya Ray Pradhan (Tufanganj). The winner of the Congress is Mr Keshab ray (Sitai). The Forward Bloc's winners are : Mr Paresh Adhikary, Mr Udayan Guha, Mr Akshoy Thakur and Mr Nagendra Nath Barman. 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

West Bengal Assembly Election

Leaders anxious in Cooch Behar

The leaders of all the major political parties are passing through anxiety as count down has started prior to the counting of polled votes. But, when they face media persons they pose as nothing happened and their candidates are to win tremendously.

District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh, district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal, district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha and district Congress president Mr Shyamal Chaudhury – all are hopeful of victory of their candidates.

Among the nine Assembly segments the eye catchers are Dinhata, Mathabhanga, Natabari and Mekhliganj.  

At Dinhata Dr Fazle Haque of the Congress is contesting as an independent candidate against Mr Udayan Guha of the Forward Bloc. Dr Haque is the outgoing MLA from Sitai. He turned rebel when the Congress turned down his appeal to make him a candidate at Dinhata. At Dinhata, the Trinamul Congress expelled its outgoing MLA Mr Ashok Mandal and gifted the seat to its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party. That party too got divided over selection of candidate and a section joined hands with Dr Haque to teach a lesson to the NCP leadership. A section of Trinamul Congress and the Congress too came out to support the rebel Congress candidate.

At Natabari, Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh is contesting against the outgoing MLA of the CPI-M, Mr Tamser Ali. Both are hopeful about victory. This is the fourth time Mr Ghosh is contesting and it is Mr Ali's third time. Mr Ali is anxious because in the 2009 Lok Sabha election the Trinamul Congress candidate pulled many votes from this segment.

At Mathabhanga, state forest minister Mr Ananta Ray is contesting for the second time and his main opponent is Mr Binay Krishna Barman of the Trinamul Congress. Mr Barman is enjoying support of all lobbies of his party. The main allegation against the outgoing MLA Mr Ray is he seldom visited and paid attention to this constituency after winning from here.

A rebel Trinamul Congress leader Mr Sunil Ray is contesting at Mekhliganj ignoring the official alliance sponsored Congress candidate Mr Jayanta Ray. Mr Sunil Ray is enjoying support from a large number of Trinamul Congress and Congress supporters and expects victory against state food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Demand to buy tobacco with supportive price

The tobacco growers of different areas of Cooch Behar district came out with a demand to buy their produce with proper and supportive price. They started believing that a section of unscrupulous tobacco merchants have pulling down the price of tobacco for profiteering.

It may be recalled here that some aggrieved tobacco growers had set fire to their produces that they brought for sell at the Giridhari market of Sitai block in Dinhata on last Friday. The matter drew attention of different quarters in the district.

A spokesman of the Sara Bharat Krishak O Kshetmazur Sangathan said the anger of the farmers is natural as the price of tobacco came down abnormally. He demanded the state government to buy the tobacco from the growers at a proper and supportive price. They are also getting ready to organise a movement to protect the interest of the farmers, he said.

It was learnt that the Cooch Behar district agriculture officer Mr Arun Ray recently visited different areas of Dinhata and Sitai to study the situation. He smelled a dishonest plan hatched by a section of tobacco merchants in bringing down the price of the crop. On the otherhand, a tobacco merchant explained that they had to suffer a huge loss during selling off the tobacco they bought last year. This year the demand for tobacco is thin at factories in Kolkata, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh, he added. An aged tobacco grower of Sitai said it costs about Rs 8,000 to cultivate tobacco at a one-bigha land. The yield is not as much by which one can get some profit. It is hard to earn anything by selling tobacco at a price ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 1,100 he clarified.      

Tobacco is one of the main cash crops of Cooch Behar district. It is cultivated mainly at areas in Dinhata, Sitai, Mekhliganj and Mathabhanga. This year, low price of it at markets turned the growers aggrieved. 

Monday, 9 May 2011


GCPA plan for indefinite hunger strike

The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) may go for an indefinite hunger strike in Cooch Behar once again. The plan is now under consideration of the GCPA leadership. It may be recalled here that violence occurred in connection with the GCPA's fast-unto-death programme three police personnel and two GCPA supporters had to die a few years ago in Cooch Behar.

Prior to the recent state Assembly elections in Cooch Behar, the GCPA came out against the election process and campaigned against it. During their agitation they organised demonstrations, submitted memorandums to the district magistrate and the superintendent of police. They circulated posters at different places in the district and the police had to nab many of them for their activity. They organised their 'no vote' movement at places like Dinhata, Tufanganj, Cooch Behar Sadar and Natabari. But, the election has passed over peacefully ignoring their 'no vote' call.

It is learnt from GCPA sources that they may start a fresh movement after publication of poll results. A spokesperson of the GCPA says that it is illegal and unconstitutional to hold Assembly election of West Bengal in Cooch Behar that was a princely state before its merger with India. According to the agreement by which Cooch Behar was merged with India it was to be treated as a 'C category' state but ignoring the agreement it was merged with West Bengal and was converted as a mere district. The people of Cooch Behar never accepted it and so they will start a fresh movement to get the agreement implemented properly, the GCPA spokesperson said. As a part of their proposed movement they may start indefinite hunger strike, she added. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Teenagers being used for border crimes

Teenagers are being used for smuggling along Indo-Bangladesh border in Cooch Behar district. They are being used to do the crime by damaging the barbed wire fencing. Such complaints are pouring in from the border areas in Mekhliganj sub-division and elsewhere. The Border Security Force officials are also concerned over the development. They already ordered beefing up of vigil along the border to curb the menace.

It is learnt that cattle trafficking and smuggling of essential commodities are being committed for a long at border areas like Kuchlibari, Changrabandha, Bhotbari and Nijtaraf in Mekhliganj sub-division. In a bid to control the criminal activities the authorities installed barbed wire fencing along the International border at different places. At the first phase it bore fruitful result.

But, as an alternative the smugglers started using teenagers to damage the fencing to pave the way of smooth smuggling. The teenagers are being used as they can run away quickly when BSF jawans on duty chase them. This is one of the reasons for recruiting of the rural teenagers for 'border trade'. The smugglers also press them into jobs like damaging of the fencing. The smuggling is going on along the way where the fencing is damaged.

The novel modus operandi was unearthed after detention of a number of persons including teenagers. Following the unique finding, senior BSF officials alerted the jawans and officials engaged at border outposts (BOPs) to keep strict vigil along the border to control smuggling and other criminal activities. 

Friday, 6 May 2011


Bid to keep peace after vote counting

The leaders of all political parties want to maintain peace after counting of votes and releasing of poll result. They already conveyed their activists and supporters to avoid any untoward incident to keep the situation peaceful. Cooch Behar Sadar SDO Ms Rumela Dey has also conducted an all-party meeting to maintain peace.

On 13 May the fate of 62 candidates of nine Assembly segments of Cooch Behar district will be decided. The counting of polled votes will be held at different centres. Counting of Cooch Behar Uttar and Cooch Behar Dakshin segments will be held at Cooch Behar Polytechnic. Votes of Mekhliganj will be counted at Mekhliganj High School and counting of Mathabhanga and Sitalkuchi will be held at Mathabhanga High School. Votes of Natabari and Tufanganj segments will be counted at Tufanganj College. Votes of Dinhata and Sitai constituencies will be counted at Dinhata College.

There will be Section 144 CrPC around all the counting centres. Additional police forces will be deployed to maintain peaceful situation.

District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh says they want the result to be released in a smoother way and he believes that the administration will do the needful. At the same time he said Trinamul activists were being alerted about wrongdoings of members of the Co-ordination Committee.

A CPI-M leader and state forest minister Mr Ananta Ray said they want peace but the Trinamul activists may turn the situation bad on the counting day.

Vice-president of Cooch Behar district Congress Mr Deepak Neogi said they have instructed their supporters to accept the polling result with sportsmanship.

Forward Bloc leader Mr Debashis Banik also said they alerted their supporters not to follow any provocation.

District BJP general secretary Mr Nikhil Ranjan Dey too expressed his desire to keep the situation peaceful.

On the otherhand, OC (Election) Mr Pijush Goswami said they have taken all precautions and the security system was also beefed up. 

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Move to beef up security along Bangladesh border at Mekhliganj

There are two Bangladeshi enclaves adjacent to the international border at Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar. These are Dahagram and Angarpota. These two enclaves have connection with the mainland of Bangladesh. The district administration of Cooch Behar has taken initiative to boost up security facilities near the enclaves to thwart activities of smugglers, cattle lifters and other criminals. As a part of the move 24 watch points of Border Security Force are coming up.

The plan behind setting up of the watch points is to help the BSF jawans to keep watch on the border. It was learnt that Rs 50-lakh has been allocated to construct 24 watch points at gram panchayat areas like Kuchlibari and Bagdogra Fulkadabri under Mekhliganj block. Work was initiated to set up eleven of the proposed watch points but the rest have delayed due to different problems. At one stage the Bangladesh authorities reportedly expressed their objection over construction of the watch points. In January of this year a high level meeting was held at Changrabandha border to iron out the problems and the situation turned normal.

It is expected that after completion of construction of the watch points it would be easier for the BSF jawans to keep vigil along the border. Following this, the problem of cattle trafficking, smuggling and illegal infiltration may decrease in the border areas. Though there are eight border outposts (BOP) of the BSF the addition of the watch points may be helpful to the security force to keep constant vigil over the border. Sources said the administration is now trying to complete the construction of the proposed watch points as early as possible. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Non-political initiative to develop Dinhata

A non-political organisation came out for all out development of Dinhata sub-division of Cooch Behar district.

In a recent meeting held at Nripendra Narayan Memorial Library Hall, the Dinhata Unnayan Nagarik Mancha adopted a decision to organise popular movements in the greater interest of long-felt development of Dinhata. Eminent citizens like Mr Chandan Sengupta, Mr Sunil Das, Mr Shyamal Chaudhury, Mr Bhabani Sankar Agarwal and Mr Narayan Sarkar attended the meeting.

DUNM sources said they would mobilise public opinion towards setting up of a blood bank, a new college, reopening of the abandoned International Check Post (ICP) at Gitaldaha, construction of a road-bridge over Singimari river and revival of the railway facility to connect Cooch Behar with Kolkata through Bangladesh.

The convenor of the DUNM, Mr Jaygopal Bhaumik alleged that there was no full-fledged blood bank at Dinhata and so the relatives of serious patients have to rush to Cooch Behar crossing a distance of about 26-kilometre to collect blood. Many times they have to suffer due to presence of racket of middlemen. A few years back a blood storage centre was introduced at Dinhata sub-divisional hospital but that is now almost a non-functional one, he alleged. He demanded revival of that blood storage centre and establishment of a full-fledged blood bank at Dinhata.

In the meeting the speakers emphasised on getting back the abandoned ICP at Gitaldaha to ease journey between India and Bangladesh. They also spoke on the long felt need to make a road bridge over Singimari to connect Dinhata with Sitai. Reintroduction of the railway facility between Cooch Behar and Kolkata via Gitalgaha through Bangladesh was also got adequate importance in the discussion as they felt the railway facility would be effective to reduce the time of journey and it would be beneficial to improve trade and commerce scenario in the region. An additional college and a polytechnic are also needed for the students of this large sub-division, they observed. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Stadium yet incomplete at Mathabhanga

Ten years have passed but the proposed full-fledged stadium is yet to be completed at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar. Following demands from different quarters of sports lovers the then MP (Lok Sabha) Mr Amar Ray Pradhan had sanctioned a sum of Rs 20-lakh in 2001 to initiate the construction of the stadium. According to the plan the proposed Netaji Krirangan was to accommodate 7,000 seats. Mr Ray Pradhan had sanctioned an additional fund of Rs 42-lakh in two instalments from his MP-LAD fund after allotment of the first instalment.

During the past ten years seating arrangements for about 3,000 viewers has been made including boundary fencing. As per the ambitious Rs 1-crore project seating arrangements for another 4,000 viewers is to come up there. According to the plan an ultra-modern gymnasium for sportsmen to be build up beneath the gallery. Offices of the Sub-divisional Sports Association, Sub-divisional School Sports Association are also to be added there. But, it is not yet clear who to fund the required money to complete the stadium.

Mathabhanga SSA sources said they spent the first instalment of the MP-LAD fund. In 2004 they received Rs 20-lakh as the second instalment and that was handed over to the public works department. Later, in 2009-2010 fiscal year that fund was transferred to the Mathabhanga Municipality to erect the gallery but it has been left incomplete.

Recently, the civic body called a tender for Rs 17-lakh. It is decided that a gallery with about 3,000 seats would be made on the east side of the stadium. The rest of the work would be completed after arranging the required fund. Locals have started to believe that the much awaited stadium would stand as a distant dream as no one knows from where the fund to come. 

Monday, 2 May 2011


Maize and paddy cultivation affected due to storms

Thirty-four Gram Panchayat areas have been affected in the Kalbaishakhi and seasonal storms that occurred several times on and from 18 April in Cooch Behar district. The affected GPs are spread in six blocks like Dinhata-I, Dinhata-II, Mathabhanga-I, Sitai, Tufanganj-I and Tufanganj-II. Dinhata-I and Siati are the two most affected blocks that faced the severity of hailstorms.

According to an official estimate 1,51,680 people have been affected in the storms. 194 cattle-lives have been lost. The loss of cattle has been estimated to Rs 9-lakh. Crops spread in 10,365-hecter land have been damaged and its value is worth Rs 10.35-crore. 7,810 houses have been fully damaged and the loss is about 7.81-crore. The estimated loss of 7,500 partially damaged houses is worth Rs 1.88-crore.

Sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad Mr Dilip Biswas said they sought to the state government 25,000 tarpaulin sheets, 100-MT special GR and cash of Rs 5-lakh as cash GR for disbursement among the storm affected people as relief. He claimed that already they started distribution of relief materials at different storm-lashed areas in the district through the concerned BDO offices.

Referring the damage of crops Mr Biswas said the farmers faced a huge loss as cultivation of maize and Boro paddy have been largely affected due to the hailstorm that occurred several times since 18 April.